Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) is the main reason 95% of people relapse within 90 days of quitting drugs and/or alcohol. But with the right treatment plan, you can both mitigate the severity of the symptoms and shorten the duration of PAWS.
What is PAWS?
To accurately and simply define opiate PAWS, let’s break down the meaning of each individual word:
- Post – “After”
- Acute – “Very serious or dangerous; requiring serious attention or action”
- Withdrawal – “The discontinuance of administration or use of a drug”
- Syndrome – “A group of symptoms”
Simply put, PAWS is a group of symptoms that occur after an individual has gone through the serious withdrawal phase induced by the discontinuation of narcotic drugs.
In his popular book, Staying Sober: A Guide for Relapse Prevention, Terence Gorski states the following:
Post-acute withdrawal is a group of symptoms of addictive disease that occur as a result of abstinence from addictive chemicals. In the alcoholic/addict these symptoms appear seven to fourteen days into abstinence, after stabilization from the acute withdrawal. Post-acute withdrawal is a bio/psycho/social syndrome. It results from a combination of damage to the nervous system caused by alcohol or drugs and the psychosocial stress of coping with life without drugs or alcohol.”
PAWS can last anywhere from a few weeks to several years. In fact, there is even a possibility that opiate PAWS can continue for the rest of an individual’s life after quitting opiates.
Unfortunately, there is really no way to determine how long it will last.
However, do not be discouraged, because you can use create your own customized plan to make it less arduous (either by yourself with the help of a professional).
Symptoms of PAWS
There is a wide range of symptoms an individual might experience from PAWS. PAWS symptoms will vary from person to person, and they will also vary in severity from person to person.
Some common symptoms that occur from PAWS are:
- Inability to think clearly
- Memory problems
- Emotional overreactions or numbness
- Physical coordination problems
- Stress sensitivity
- Increased susceptibility to emotional and physical pain
- Gastrointestinal (GI) issues
- Intense cravings to use opiates
- Drug dreams
- Inability to experience pleasure (“pleasure deafness”)
I strongly believe that the last symptom (“pleasure deafness”) is the #1 reason why most individuals with PAWS relapse within the first 90 days of getting sober.
Going weeks to months without feeling any pleasure in life is in my opinion more detrimental to recovery than any other symptom.
But combine “pleasure deafness” with a multitude of other mental and physical symptoms, and you can easily see why it’s so difficult to abstain from using drugs and/or alcohol after you’ve quit.
You see, addiction can lead to severe biochemical imbalances in the body.
Brain function becomes deteriorated from the daily abuse of addictive substances, and PAWS symptoms accurately reflect this.
Trying to live life sober can be extremely stressful and unpleasant when your biochemistry is functioning from such a disrupted state.
Luckily, there are extremely powerful natural methods for re-establishing healthy brain chemistry in persons suffering from PAWS.
And by treating the biochemical component of PAWS as the foundation of treatment upon which the psychological, social, and spiritual elements are built upon, you can make it through PAWS and reclaim your freedom.
Here are the main topics mentioned in this episode:
- Overview of Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)
- PAWS symptoms
- PAWS timeline
- The 4 domains of PAWS treatment (bio/psycho/social/spiritual)
- Treating the biochemical component of PAWS as the foundation of healing
- Using the “Key 3” (supplements, nutrition, exercise) for brain/body repair
- Other biochemical therapies for healing from PAWS
- BrainSync.com for guided meditations by Kelly Howell
- Psychological therapies (counseling, psychotherapy, coaching, hypnosis, NLP, and more)
- Optimizing the social aspect of PAWS recovery
- Spiritual therapies to help you make it through PAWS
Here are the podcasts mentioned in this episode:
- All About Exercise For Addiction Recovery And Mental Health
- Julia Ross on Amino Acid Therapy For Opioid, Alcohol And Other Addictions, Mood Disorders, And Food Cravings
- The “Miracle Supplements” That Helped Chris And Matt Quit Alcohol And Opioids